Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – November 3, 2017


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Featured This Week


New Reports




November 3, 2017


San Francisco issues 2018 employer health care spending rates

The City of San Francisco has announced the 2018 rates for its employer health care spending law, whereby employers must either contribute a specified amount toward their employees’ health care costs on a regular basis or pay into a city health care fund for San Francisco residents. Beginning January 1, 2018, the health care expenditure rate for employers with 100 or more employees will be $2.83 per hour, and the rate for medium-sized businesses with 20-99 employees will be $1.89 per hour….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

More than 40 percent of retirees encounter higher than expected health care costs in retirement

More than 40 percent of retirees find their health care and long term care costs in retirement are higher than they planned or estimated, according to recent research from the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. This is true across all demographics, income and asset levels. In addition, having a formal plan for retirement didn’t prove to completely solve the problem of underestimating the costs of health and long-term care. Forty-three percent of those with a retirement plan still underestimated these costs….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

November 2, 2017


Text: HHS, proposed rule, notice of benefit and payment parameters for 2019

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

HHS proposes changes to how small employers and employees enroll in SHOP plans

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a proposed rule which would reduce the regulatory burdens imposed on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)-created Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges. These proposals, if finalized, could change how small employers and employees enroll in SHOP plans for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2018….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

401k balances on the rise

The average 401k balance for consistent participants rose each year from 2010 through year-end 2015, according to a recent analysis of 26.1 million 401k participants from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Overall, the average 401k account balance increased at a compound annual average growth rate of 13.9 percent from 2010 to 2015, to $143,436 at year-end 2015….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

November 1, 2017


Five tips for improving employee benefits programs

Most employers are either totally frustrated at their employee benefits program or are frozen in place waiting to hear about the next round of Congressional votes, according to Rob Pariseau, executive vice president of Lykes Insurance, a Florida-based commercial insurance firm. “This is actually a good time for employers to take a step back and take a look at their group health plan,” says Pariseau. “The goal is to identify what’s most important (and affordable) and to build a plan, over time, to keep it sustainable….”

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

State university hospital immune from FMLA suit, but claims against individual supervisors survive

A discharged University of New Mexico hospital employee could not proceed with his FMLA claims against the state entity, but he could move forward with his FMLA claims against his supervisors, a federal district court in New Mexico ruled. The court partially granted the employers’ motion to dismiss, finding that the hospital had sovereign immunity against the FMLA claims. However, his supervisors could be found individually liable under the FMLA if, as alleged, they denied the employee FMLA leave and fired him shortly after he requested leave. His claims against both the hospital and supervisors for denial of due process, breach of implied contract, and wrongful termination also survived based on the employee’s allegations he was fired without prior notice or hearing, and without just cause….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

October 31, 2017


Chronic back condition, disputed notice issues leave FMLA claims standing

FMLA interference and retaliation claims of a terminated manufacturing employee would survive summary judgment, ruled a federal district court in Kentucky. The employee’s spinal arthritis, lumbago, and muscle spasms qualified as a chronic serious health condition for which he had twice visited his physician and was receiving medication. Given that the employee called in every day to his supervisor to say he could not work due to back pain/spasms between June 9, when he injured his back lifting heavy windows, and his return August 26, as well as provided two doctor’s notes, the court found material fact issues on whether his employer had notice of his injuries and need for FMLA leave, especially since it provided him a phone number to call to apply for short-term disability. And though his employer claimed it had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for firing the employee five months’ later (recent excessive absences), the employer counted against him absences that occurred during the period of his potentially FMLA-qualifying leave. These issues suggested to the court that although there were many “close calls,” the FMLA interference and retaliation claims were best left to a jury….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

ERISA’s venue provision is no bar to forum-selection clauses

Leaning heavily on a decision by the Sixth Circuit, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has concluded that ERISA’s venue provision, ERISA Sec. 502(e)(2), does not preclude enforcement of a forum-selection clause included in an employee benefit plan. Thus, a long-time Caterpillar plant employee whose ERISA suit was transferred from his chosen federal venue in Pennsylvania to a federal court in Illinois will have to continue litigating his case in Illinois, the venue specified in the plan….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

October 30, 2017


Employer premiums rise nearly 7% in 2017 as employees absorb more of health insurance cost

Premium renewal rates (the comparison of similar plan rates year over year) for employer sponsored health insurance rose an average of 6.6%—a significant increase from the five-year average increase of 5.6%, according to the 2017 United Benefit Advisors (UBA) Health Plan Survey, released October 26. Two states saw record premium increases: Connecticut saw a 24% increase in premiums in 2017, up to $655 from $530; New York also saw a large increase of 14%, up to $712 in 2017 over $624 in 2016….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

2017 tax returns must include proof of minimum coverage, or face penalty

For the upcoming 2018 filing season for 2017 individual tax returns, the IRS will not accept electronically filed tax returns in which the taxpayer does not address the health care insurance coverage reporting requirements of section 1502 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The IRS announcement, specifically states that for the IRS to accept an electronic tax return, the taxpayer must: (1) indicate that they had qualified health care insurance coverage (also called “minimum essential coverage”) by checking the “Full-year coverage box” on Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ; (2) submit Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, claiming a coverage exemption (typically based on hardship); or (3) make an individual shared responsibility payment (penalty payment) when they file their federal income tax return….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »